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Report reveals Mexican cartels using drones to patrol U.S. border

February 20, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Report reveals Mexican cartels using drones to patrol U.S. border GETTY IMAGES

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A new report published by Fox News Latino reveals how Mexican drug cartels are using legions of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, and nothing is being done to stop them.

The cartels are utilizing fleets of drones along the U.S.-Mexico southern border as intelligence gathering tools instead of the falcones (Spanish for Falcons) or human lookouts often used at key points along the border to monitor the movement and activities of U.S. border patrol agents (CBP).

The intelligence gathering is keeping drug traffickers one step ahead of CBP security efforts.

The drones provide detailed real-time intelligence to smugglers on the location and movement of Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officers while also identifying weak points in the border security infrastructure.

The use of drones employed by the cartels is also raising security concerns among U.S. officials, who fear UAV’s could be either be used as delivery systems for weapons or could interfere with commercial flights.

The long list of critical challenges America’s border security efforts face include:

*The exploitation by drug smugglers of areas where law enforcement agents are not operating and cue an illegal crossing at those points, which could easily circumvent efforts to randomized patrols and the capabilities of quick-response units.

* Having knowledge of temporary weak points of border patrols, cartels can also utilize drones to deliver a payload of narcotics into the U.S. without risk of capture.

The tactic also eliminates the worry for drug cartels about the logistics of dropping cargo and having the drone return safely because the shipment of narcotics is worth tens or even hundreds of times more than the UAV, which deems the drone dispensible.

Cartels have used this tactic since 2010. Just last year Border Patrol agents discovered a drone carrying 28 pounds of heroin that crossed the border near Calexico, California.

* UAV’s can be used by the cartels to identify members of law enforcement, putting officers and their families at risk.

What’s most troubling to law enforcement officials is the fact that the United States has no capacity to stop them.

Options put forth by experts to combat the use of UAVs by law enforcement include the use of snipers to shoot down the drones, which would pose a difficult task given the size of the target and the speed at which it can travel and change direction, or the danger it could pose to individuals in the area.

In addition, Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine Border Patrol prevent CBP agents from acting on their own because airspace is their exclusive domain.

For years, the Border Patrol have made attempts to obtain small UAVs that could be launched from the back of pickup trucks to conduct reconnaissance but have failed because of budgetary constraints from Washington.

Air and Marine can only provide helicopters armed with extremely high-powered machine guns, which costs more than $1,500 an hour plus crew to try and take down a very nimble and low-flying UAV worth a fraction of that cost.

It would be the equivalent of bringing a Hellfire missile when all you need is a fly-swatter.

A more bold plan would involve the use of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device that fries the UAVs’ circuits, but that would likely take out some of America’s border security technology in the process, and it would bring unforeseeably but inevitable unintended consequences.

Meanwhile, the cartels and other criminal organizations do have a way to counter American UAVs. It has been reported that some of the UAVs American law enforcement are using for operations lack critical security modules that can prevent “GPS spoofing;” that is, a simple cyberattack that sends the UAV incorrect GPS coordinates, causing it to fly away from its intended route.

Mexican cartels continue to operate with impunity, which is having a definitive impact on the volume of drug smuggling along with illegal immigration, and the result is the United States lacks the capabilities to counter the criminal use of UAV activities along the border.

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